It’s an amazing and incredible experience, having a child. But in terms of how it can make you feel, it can be fairly unpleasant, at least sometimes. There are all sorts of weird side effects, including morning sickness, health challenges, and changes to your body. Getting there can be somewhat of a process, but that doesn’t detract from the happiness of being a parent.
And now we can add hearing loss to that list of drawbacks.
Pregnancy isn’t usually the first thing you think of when somebody is talking about hearing loss. But pregnancy-induced hearing loss is actually more prevalent than most people might presume. This means that these symptoms are worth keeping on your radar. Pregnancy-induced hearing loss isn’t something you should be worried about in most cases. Sadly, sometimes the cause is a more serious problem that could call for swift medical treatment. Is hearing loss during pregnancy permanent? Well, it could be, depending on how quickly you treat it and what the root cause is.
What are the symptoms of pregnancy-related hearing loss?
You generally won’t hear about pregnancy-related hearing loss in pop-culture. It isn’t nearly as cinematic as something like morning sickness. This means that, generally speaking, individuals may be less likely to anticipate pregnancy-related hearing loss. So knowing what to look out for can be helpful.
Pregnancy-related hearing loss is about more than just cranking up the volume on your devices, after all. Here are a few of the most common:
- Headaches and migraines: You might also have an increase in the number of headaches or migraines you have regularly.
- Tinnitus: Pregnancy-related hearing loss is often associated with tinnitus, or a ringing or buzzing in the ears. The rhythm and sound of your tinnitus symptoms can, in some circumstances, sound like your own heartbeat which is known as “pulsatile tinnitus”. Whether this tinnitus exists on its own or with hearing loss, it’s worth consulting your care team about what you’re feeling.
- Everything seems quieter: Of course, this indication of hearing loss is the most apparent. But a condition called “sudden sensorineural hearing loss” comes on suddenly and can be more obvious. Any type of sudden hearing loss during pregnancy should be conveyed to your healthcare team as soon as you can. You may need emergency treatment to prevent the sudden hearing loss from becoming irreversible.
- Dizziness and imbalance: In many cases, pregnancy-induced hearing loss can impact the inner ear (or, in some instances, whatever is impacting the inner ear is also causing hearing loss). Whenever your inner ear isn’t functioning properly, you might experience issues with balance and dizziness with your hearing loss. Pregnancy-related hearing loss is no exception.
- A feeling of fullness in your ears: Pregnancy-induced hearing loss might in some cases be accompanied by a feeling of stuffiness or fullness in your ears.
None of these symptoms are inevitably universal. Depending on the root cause of your pregnancy-related hearing loss, you might experience some symptoms but maybe not others. In any case, if you experience hearing loss or any of the associated symptoms while you are pregnant, it’s typically a good plan to talk to your provider. Because these symptoms may be an indication of a more serious concern.
The causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss
Does being pregnant impact hearing? Well, maybe, in some cases. But other parts of your body are impacted by pregnancy and those parts of your body can then impact your hearing.
So, what are the likely causes of pregnancy-related hearing loss? Here are some of the most prevalent causes:
- High blood pressure: Hearing loss and tinnitus can be the result of high blood pressure which can be brought about by pregnancy. And this is, in part, why it’s extremely important to tell your doctor about your hearing loss. High blood pressure can be a symptom of preeclampsia and other severe conditions. Throughout pregnancy, these issues should be monitored.
- Some of the typical things: Whether you’re pregnant or not, typical things like obstructions, sinus infections, and ear infections can trigger hearing loss.
- Hormone and circulatory changes: Your body is performing an extraordinary amount of work when you get pregnant. As a consequence, all sorts of changes are happening, both with respect to your hormones and your circulatory system.
- Bone growth: There’s a rare condition known as otosclerosis where the tiny bones in your ear begin growing more rapidly, and this accelerated growth blocks the ability of sound to pass through your ears. In pregnant women, this faster bone growth may be caused by alterations in your hormones or other changes in your body. Otoscerlosis research is still an ongoing process, and scientists are still working out exactly how much it affects hearing.
- An iron deficiency: Your health, and the health of your baby, can both be impacted in lots of ways by an iron deficiency. Hearing loss can sometimes be one of those impacts for the pregnant woman.
In some instances, the cause of your hearing loss just won’t be all that well comprehended. Regularly consulting your physician and keeping an eye on your symptoms is the key here.
How is this kind of hearing loss treated?
Treatment of this form of hearing loss will likely depend on the root cause. Will my hearing return to normal? This is the most common question people will have. Once your pregnancy has ended, your hearing should go back to normal, or maybe even sooner.
However, this isn’t always the default, so it’s important to be aggressive when you observe symptoms. You might require extra treatment if bone growth is blocking your ear canal, for example. The outcome will also depend on how quickly you get treatment in the case of abrupt sensorineural hearing loss.
For this reason, reporting any symptoms to your physician is so essential. You may then undergo a complete hearing screening or evaluation to help get to the bottom of your symptoms (or at least eliminate any of the more dangerous possible impacts).
Protect your hearing
Even when you’re pregnant, while you’re juggling so many other things, it’s important to make sure you pay attention to and safeguard your hearing. One of the best ways to do that is to remain in touch with us and with your care team. Give us a call today to set up a hearing evaluation.